'Below Deck Down Under' fans shocked by latest incidents

This season focuses on the crew aboard the Northern Sun, a superyacht that hosts guests sailing through the Whitsunday Islands in Australia. File picture: Brendan Magaar / African News Agency (ANA)

This season focuses on the crew aboard the Northern Sun, a superyacht that hosts guests sailing through the Whitsunday Islands in Australia. File picture: Brendan Magaar / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 10, 2023


By Herb Scribner

Two crew members on ‘Below Deck Down Under’ were fired from the superyacht featured on the Bravo show due to sexual misconduct that forced the show's production team and the boat's captain to intervene.

Within several minutes of the show's Aug. 7 episode, producers thwarted boatswain Luke Jones and second steward Laura Bileskalne after they entered other crew member's bedrooms without their consent and attempted to make sexual advances on their shipmates.

"Our cabin is our safety zone," the captain of the superyacht, Jason Chambers, told his crew. "That door is our boundary. That door is not to be opened unless it's consensual."

Though Chambers said the firings happened over a year ago, footage of the incidents aired for the first time this week, which has brought a lot of attention to the ‘Below Deck’ show from fans who were alarmed by the incidents but impressed by the response of the production crew and other crew members on the boat.

What is 'Below Deck Down Under?'

The show - which debuted in 2022 - is a spin-off of the reality TV programme ‘Below Deck,’ which has been around for more than a decade.

This season focuses on the crew aboard the Northern Sun, a superyacht that hosts guests sailing through the Whitsunday Islands in Australia.

Like other ‘Below Deck’ programmes, the episodes show the high-stress and dramatic situations of the crew, who have to contend with wealthy charter guests and the politics on the boat itself.

Romantic relationships frequently pop up on the show as the young and attractive crew members spend a lengthy amount of time together away from their family and friends.

The show's latest episode featured two incidents that led to a pair of firings.

What happened during this episode?

The first incident began after third stew Margot Sisson told chief steward Aesha Scott that she didn't want to be bothered after a night of drinking. "All I want is water and bed. No Luke," she said, referencing Jones.

Soon Jones, who was naked at the time, was seen as he attempted to enter Sisson's bed, despite her being unconscious and, as she recalled later in the episode, "blackout drunk."

Producers, who are not typically on the show, jumped into the scene and forced Jones out of the room despite his heavy protests, expletives and screams. He was then brought to his own quarters, where he locked himself inside.

After learning about what happened from Sisson, a tearful Scott reported the incident to the captain, who quickly kicked Jones off the ship and sent him to a hotel for the night.

"You don't have the right to put someone unconscious into that position," Scott told the camera in an interview after the incident.

"I have had a drunken sexual-assault experience before, and I never wanted that to happen to anyone else.

“And she's just such a sweet angel that the thought of anyone violating or being in her space, it just makes me feel sick."

The following morning, Sisson, who did not recall details of what had occurred, expressed relief that nothing happened with Jones.

Chambers then called Jones back on board and promptly fired him.

"Last night there were boundaries crossed," Chambers told Jones.

"There was indecency, and you went into someone else's cabin without consent. Unfortunately, I've got nothing else but to terminate your employment."

Jones then apologised for the incident, "I'm sorry, and I'm just so disappointed in myself."

What happened in the second incident?

Shortly after Jones was fired from the ship, Sisson discussed the incident with the second steward, Bileskalne.

The second steward repeatedly said that she did not agree with Jones's firing and expressed sympathy toward him.

"Aw, poor Luke," Bileskalne told Sisson after hearing what happened. "If he comes naked in my cabin I'd be, like, 'Hello! Yes!'"

After hearing about these insensitive comments, chief steward Scott told the captain that he might need to have a conversation with Bileskalne.

Scott also informed the captain that Bileskalne had separately made a number of unwanted sexual advances toward deckhand Adam Kodra.

Earlier in the Aug. 7 episode, the cameras showed Bileskalne's attempt to sit on Kodra's lap in a hot tub and Kodra evading her.

Later on, she entered Kodra's room without his consent and tried to give him a massage, pouring lotion across his back (this appeared to have happened around the same time that Jones entered Sisson's room).

The producers intervened, asking Bileskalne to leave Kodra's room. She kissed Kodra on the back multiple times before exiting the cabin.

"I told her many times I just want to be friends, but she's not getting the point across," Kodra told the camera.

The next morning, Chambers called Bileskalne into his office to talk, where he expressed disappointment for her comments toward Sisson and advances toward Kodra.

"Adam feels uncomfortable with some moments out, and he's tried to say no, and you have not listened to him and his boundaries to be set," the captain told Bileskalne the following day.

Chambers said Bileskalne had disrespected him by joking with Sisson about the incident with Jones, despite his conversation with the crew about respecting each other.

"I'm trying to move forward as a team," he said. "I'm trying to get that behind us, and you've brought it straight back up, so in that I'm going to terminate your employment today."

What has Bravo said about the firings?

Representatives for Bravo and ‘Below Deck Down Under’ declined to comment. Cast members were not made immediately available for interviews.

Has the 'Below Deck Down Under' cast responded?

Sisson posted a lengthy message on her Instagram story in which she thanked the producers for helping her throughout the night.

She said she was grateful to Scott as well for "the way she recognised the vulnerability of the situation I was in and her courageous intervention."

"There are unfortunately a lot of captains who would choose to sweep something like this under the rug," she wrote of Chambers.

"I am grateful that Jason is not one of them. Thank you for repeatedly making me feel safe and supported."

Have Jones and Bileskalne made statements?

Bileskalne apologised in a statement to Entertainment Tonight.

"My sincere apologies to Adam. I did not realise I made him feel uncomfortable, and no one should be put in that position," she said in the statement.

Jones posted a statement on his Instagram, too, according to Entertainment Tonight.

"It doesn't matter what they think about you because you don't Care. Everything we Hear is an Opinion, Not a Fact," he wrote in an Aug. 6 post. "Everything we see is a Perspective. Not the Truth. Take Ownership and move forward."